Archive for the '(In)Fertility' Category

Published by PaintingChef on 14 Aug 2013

On the unintentional shift in my perspective.

Over the past 24 hours, I’ve learned a hard lesson. Things are going to happen fast but they can also… un-happen just as fast. And your heart is going to be secretly ripped out but you have to just take a deep breath and tell yourself that that little newborn safe haven baby is going to go to a wonderful family and have such a great life. Someone else was meant for her. When I realized that I truly believed that with every ounce of my heart, something clicked in me and I became aware of a huge change in my outlook that, I guess, has been building little by little over the past 6 or so months (I’m not going to go check my email or previous blog posts for exact dates… just go with the 6 month thing. I think I wore long pants to the first meeting and probably a cardigan because I thought it looked mom-ish… it MUST have been winter, right?)

I’ve had to train my heart to go through a shift over the past few months. Spending 7 years doing infertility treatments is, at its core, a somewhat selfish pursuit. I don’t say that in a bad way at all, it was our choice to do that and I NEEDED to do that. Had they been successful, that would have been wonderful. But in some way… infertility treatments are an attempt to fulfill a need that I, as a woman and a hopeful mother, have. And that is fine. PLEASE don’t think I’m suddenly turning on my sisters and pointing a finger and crying foul. I would never. My heart breaks for you every month you must once again mourn and when you are successful, I cheer from mountains with you. I will NEVER not be one of you because we have been in the trenches together.

But one of the oft-ignored aspects of infertility is the fact that for so many of us, treatments aren’t enough. We aren’t destined to give birth and, speaking just for myself, on some level I feel like a failure as a woman because of that. And I don’t think that feeling is ever going to go away. It’s like a secret club that I’m just not ever going to be invited to join and I had to allow that to really sink in. And you know what? It took a lot longer than I thought it was going to take but one day, it just kind of stuck and miraculously it was a lot easier to handle than I thought it would be.

So here we are. Waiting. Within half an hour of being approved we were considered for a 3 day old safe haven baby and a 3 year old little boy. I think that, at this point, both of them have gone to different homes. And when I only cried a little it occurred to me that maybe my perspective had changed. There is a child out there that needs me, that is waiting for me as desperately as I am waiting for them. Yes. I will get excited every time we are contacted. But ultimately, I just want the kids to be in the best place for them. Eventually that will be my home for just the right person but until that happens, I’m their cheerleaders too.

Published by PaintingChef on 08 Jul 2013

The Detritus of Infertility.

There is something very intimidating about the prospect of a person coming into your house and looking around to see if it would be a good home for a child. It’s a situation that, in my case at least, definitely prompted a round of de-cluttering. Or, as I like to call it, “Holy shit, how old is that bread and maybe I should stop buying cans of black beans.”

I have a bookshelf in my bedroom. It’s always been a monument to chaos, ill-advised cookbook purchases and the place where I drape all those belts that come attached to dresses but you end up pulling them all off the dresses before you wash them because really all they do is create very intricate knots in the washing machine and it’s not like I spilled ketchup on them (THIS TIME) so really do they need to be washed? Also? Empty birchboxes and glossy boxes because PRETTY! That bookcase needed to be… let’s call it straightened? I didn’t technically do a lot of de-cluttering on it, I mean sure… I found that one bag from the dollar general when I went crazy buying air freshener and apparently was just throwing the empty packages back in the bag for some reason? So I threw that away. And the silver clip in hair extensions. I probably won’t wear those again. I like my pink and purple ones better. But I straightened. And dusted. And made the books all face the same way. And it looks better.

Then I moved on to the pantry. That was a mistake. Of epic proportions. But I did it and now my pantry is awesomely clean and organized and will probably stay that way for… oh… wait… nevermind. I had a Fourth of July party at my house for almost 50 people and it was supposed to be a pool party but it poured the rain and everyone was inside and now everything is a wreck again.

I also cleaned out under my bathroom counter. The land of half empty bottles of shampoo, forgotten teeth whitening strips and unexplainable empty boxes. I am also apparently a HUGE fan of perfume samples.

And then, a little further back, I found it. The detritus of infertility. The Basket. I had forgotten that I’d stuffed it back there one day in a hysterical fit of never ever again. I didn’t look closely enough but I’m sure there was a fingerprint smear of chocolate or ice cream on it somewhere. I think at the time I called the Basket of Broken Dreams. It still had vials of drugs to be mixed. Hormones to be injected. There were pregnancy tests. Ovulation sticks. Literally hundreds of needles and syringes in all sizes still in their packages. Progesterone oil. Alcohol swabs. (Those went in the first aid kit because they are actually kind of handy).

I lived and died by that basket on and off for seven years. My life revolved around it. Mixing Repronex shots. Limping around after progesterone injections. Setting an alarm for the middle of the night to perfectly time an HCG trigger shot. Sending Patrick to the clinic ahead of me to make his… deposit… for another IUI. Coming to terms with the fact that he might knock me up via turkey baster from another county. Taking two pregnancy tests a day because maybe I’m pregnant-er in the afternoon than I am in the morning.

I carried it out into the kitchen and dropped it on the counter. I pulled everything out of it. I took this picture.

IF Pic

And then I taped it all up in a box because that made me feel like someone would be less likely to get stabbed with a sealed and sterilized needle and I threw that son of a bitch away. (Fine… I kept the actual basket and it is now full of sunscreen and bug spray and sits by my tub. What? It’s cute and holds a lot of shit.)

Throwing that basket away was liberating. Infertility will always be a part of my identity. But I’m in recovery. WE have found another path. I won’t forget what I went through. And I might always get a little tightness in my stomach before a baby shower. And yes, your squirming precious new baby is glorious but my eyes are always going to water a little when I meet him or her for the first time. You are welcome to think it’s because I’m overcome by their perfection. That is fine.

But in throwing away everything in that basket, I truly gave myself permission to let go and move on. It will happen differently for us. But it WILL happen. Just like it was supposed to all along.

Published by PaintingChef on 08 Mar 2013

Are we on plan Q at this point? Plan X? Am I out of letters? Perhaps this is Plan Squiggle? Plan Formerly Known as Plan?

Welcome ladies and… gentleman! I see a gentleman!

(Name that movie and win my undying love)

Ahem… as I was saying… welcome. It’s time for the latest chapter in the never-ending saga of “Susannah and Patrick just want a baby, OMG universe why do you hate us so much?”

So. I tried. I tried so hard to get on board with embryo adoption. I tried and tried to rationalize to myself. To you. To myself again. And each time I failed. I can’t do it. As much as I want to be pregnant, I just can’t. I’m sure it has something to do with my VERY passionate and uncompromising pro-choice position and how that contrasts with the roots of the embryo adoption “thing” but something about it just… it doesn’t sit right with me. But I think there is more to it than that… Maybe I haven’t felt myself pulled towards adoption as a “mission” per say, but I don’t feel right choosing something that feels incredibly selfish and all about me-me-me when there are so many children who already exist in non-frozen form who NEED a home. Maybe they need our home.

At the same time, in my wildly over-thought navel-gazing manner, I’m terrified of adopting a child. Public, private, domestic, international, stork-kidnapping or cabbage patch-raiding. It all overwhelms me. The feeeelings keep me up at night and have even kept me from fully relaxing for my last few pedicures. So damn. Shit must be real.

We go back and forth. We change our minds daily. We plan expensive home renovations requiring loans and demolition and possible temporary relocation while the back of our house is missing only to scrap them when we decide that hey… maybe we should pay off the boat first. All as a distraction.

We try and tell ourselves that maybe it isn’t supposed to be our thing. Maybe we’re just meant to be the most kick ass aunt and uncle that ever aunt-ed and uncle-ed. We write the whole thing off, try and plan a vacation instead. And then we finally make a decision that, for the first time, doesn’t keep us both up at night whispering until 2 am. We are able to sit down and know that there is a plan and that it is finally something that feels like more than just a thought… it feels like… a calling? A mission?

I don’t know. Here is what I DO know.

In 2 weeks, Patrick and I will begin the process to be foster parents. We still hope to eventually adopt if the right situation comes along. But in the meantime, until that situation presents itself, we have a lot of love to give. We have a peaceful and healing home. We have puppies who want, more than anything, warm laps and lots of hugs. We have arms to hug, ears to listen and hearts to love. Whether we are in a child’s life for days, weeks, months, or hopefully, the rest of their lives, we can make a difference.

I don’t want to turn this into a “foster mommy” blog. I imagine that there are rules about that anyway. But as we go through the training, I will probably talk about that more than just about anything else (and let’s be honest… saying anything at all is few and far between in these parts lately). I’m nervous and I’m unsure of what to expect. But for the first time in a long, long time, I’m not scared. I feel like this is the right direction.

For the first time in quite a while, I don’t’ feel like I’m drowning in a fog with no clue which way is up. It’s like someone has grabbed my shoulders, turned me just slightly, and given me a gentle shove in a direction. So I’m grabbing Patrick’s hand and walking that way without looking back.

Shit. Let’s just be honest. I’m pointing in a direction and them jumping on his back because we all know that Patrick is the quiet, constant strength in this equation. Without him, without his love and patience and acceptance of whatever our future is supposed to be, I’d fall on my face every. damn. time.

Published by PaintingChef on 27 Dec 2012

Maybe it’s that I never give up. Or maybe it’s just that I can’t ever make up my damn mind…

Hi. So… I’m having a bit of a quandary-slash-crisis of the… heart? Soul? Heart and soul? Are you hearing that one song that everyone knows how to play on the piano or the kicky Huey Lewis and the News song from the 80’s-ish?

It’s this whole adoption thing. It’s SCARY. And the attorney I’ve talked to is not at all helpful. International adoption is very daunting. So many rules… I’m too fat and previously depressed for China. Too American for Russia. Too old for other places. And oh by the way… the fact that I know in advance that we need to rule out countries that are going to require open-ended trips apparently makes me NOT a good planner who considers all the options but instead makes me a workaholic potential mother who will clearly lock my baby in a crate and feed it nothing but diet coke and mallomars with a side of whiskey.

(Are mallomars even still a thing?)

Domestic adoption… Patrick has ordered me to immediately cease and desist walking up to pregnant children in Wal-Mart and asking for their babies. I LIVE IN TENNESSEE! That’s where these kids are congregating. In completely unrelated news? I’m terrific at ducking a right hook but the left one always takes me by surprise. This is an unintentional victory because Wal-Mart always makes me sad.

But what I’m trying to wind my way around to talking about is something I’ve actually just recently learned about. Embryo adoption…

When Patrick and I both started down this path a million years ago back when my boobs were perkier and he still had hair, one of the things we agreed on was that we would have a child that was either both of ours or neither, biologically speaking. I tried and tried to make my eggs the little engines that could but while most women’s eggs are firm and plump and like those gorgeous brown, cage-free eggs that are absolutely perfect… mine are more in line with the plastic Easter egg with mismatched halves that has probably been left outside for a year, stepped on and probably peed on by a few dogs.

Clearly, it seemed like adoption was the only avenue we had left to explore. But the other day, my mother mentioned something to me in passing that I stuck in the back of my brain and took to the internets a little later to learn about.

Embryo adoption is NOT a traditional adoption. When women do IVF, there are almost always more embryos that they need/desire/plan to raise/whatever you want to call it. In the past, these embryos were either donated for research or destroyed but apparently now? They can also be donated for adoption. To people like me with crap eggs.

So we looked into a little… and then a little more… and then it started to seem like something that might be a really great fit for us.

And I started really turning it over in my head. Is it an adoption that is contradicting the entire mission of adoption? There are children that exist that need homes and parents. These embryos, regardless of what your definition of living or existing or whatever may be, are not those children. These embryos are, for intents and purposes, little teeny tiny ice cubes.

But despite that, this is still really appealing to me. And after talking it over with Patrick, I think I’m okay with that. There are people who are led to adoption as a “mission”. Regardless of their own reproductive status, they want to adopt children. We aren’t necessarily those people, we want to be parents. To a baby. I had come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to give birth to that baby but now, suddenly here is that possibility again. But without all the drugs and procedures that I’d been subjecting myself to.

I don’t know… we are still learning. But for the moment? This is winning…

Published by PaintingChef on 25 Oct 2012

Because this seems like the best thing to follow a story about accidentally making meth in the trunk of my car.

It’s kind of crazy how, just when you think you’ve settled on one thing your heart strings up and do a 180 on you and suddenly WHAM you are in completely uncharted waters preparing to open your entire life up to total strangers.

Maybe I should back up?

It’s simple really… Patrick and I have decided to adopt. There it is. We were initially considering international adoption but that truth is that, quite frankly, we can’t be out of the country and away from work for as long as we would have to be in order to complete all the paperwork. I hate even saying that because it totally reads “workaholic” but it’s just the reality of a small, family-owned business. Two-thirds of our daily office staff cannot be on an open-ended trip to Asia or Africa. And I think it’s not something that Patrick or I could not do together.

So… we are learning. We are looking at all the paperwork. We are realizing that maybe we should have life insurance. (Don’t judge.) We are composing letters to birth mothers and making scrapbooks about our life. We are collecting letters of reference from people who know us. We are making appointments with doctors and lawyers and Indian chiefs. Wait… scratch that last one… We are putting out the word that we are looking to adopt a baby. The internet says that’s a good idea. It weirds me out a little, I can’t lie. But here I am. Putting it out there into the world.

There are so many avenues to pursue. Private, Open, Closed, Government, I have no idea. I’m terrified. We are preparing to open up our entire lives for evaluation and I’m just hoping and praying that I didn’t screw this all up 15 years ago before I even knew what I was doing.

Our plan was let’s have our wonderful trip (and we did) and then we will look again at this whole parent thing. We’ve put it on the back burner long enough. I’m 35. He’s 34. We’re never going to feel adult enough but maybe we will figure it out. Everyone else does, right? But as I’ve ignored the elephant in the room, one thing was CRYSTAL clear. The fertility treatments? No. I’m done. No more. NOTHING. I’m not going back there.

And despite what those people who think they’ve got all the answers want to tell you, without lots of intervention, it ain’t happening. I don’t need to relax. Starting this process is NOT what is going to get me pregnant. But no matter how hard I’ve tried to ignore it, I DO still want to be a mother.

I was in line at the grocery store on Monday, having spent the better part of my workday doing research, when I noticed that in front of me was a girl who didn’t look a day over 16 (which means she was 25 as I FAIL as age-guessing) buying a pregnancy test. Behind me? Same. Thing. I went home and asked Patrick if it was too early to start handing out my number to every minor buying a pregnancy test. He said yes, he hasn’t saved up enough bail money yet.

Here’s the question though… where those girls a sign or just confirmation that the universe is kind of a dick sometimes?

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